Written by: Cheryl Garrison

Businesses face a lack of available talent with the skills needed to meet ever-evolving employment demands. Unemployment and labor force participation rates are low. Continuing workforce challenges require creative solutions. LaunchGVL is one such solution.

LaunchGVL connects business, industry, education, and youth. LaunchGVL was born in 2017 when a Greenville County Schools (GCS) high school principal approached Greenville Chamber leadership about facilitating connections between area businesses and students. LaunchGVL operationalizes this concept across sixteen Greenville County high schools, four career centers, and adult education.

LaunchGVL is part of Greenville County School’s work-based learning (WBL) continuum. WBL provides work experience integrated with identified core academic coursework, career and technical education curricula, or electives to support strong secondary and postsecondary education opportunities. WBL encompasses internships, co-ops, youth apprenticeships and registered apprenticeships. Students enhance their knowledge, technical skills, and 21st century work skills through participation in supervised, paid, work-based learning experiences that are not possible to replicate inside classroom walls, preparing them to enter the workforce, military, and/or pursue postsecondary education.

LaunchGVL, while young, is gaining brand recognition. Youth economic mobility and post-secondary skill development is improved through paid WBL opportunities. The LaunchGVL website provides easy access for business to engage and for students and parents to view positions. Once registered, companies complete paperwork with Greenville County Schools. Recruitment of students takes place year-round with interviews held several times throughout the year.

According to Forbes Magazine (and Pew Research), today’s young adults (between the ages of 15-21) are the least work-connected generation in decades. They are  much less likely to have had a paid summer job or to have been employed in the last year compared to every previous generation for which data exists. Students need to connect earlier with employers to ensure successful engagement in and completion of their high school education. This positions the student for additional success as they launch their educational or career journeys.

The Greenville Chamber’s vision is of a globally competitive Upstate economy where businesses succeed and people prosper. Despite the affluence and economic opportunities in Greenville, too many of our citizens are not enjoying prosperity. This year in Greenville County Schools, 59.8% of students are pupils in poverty. Let that statistic sink in. To break poverty cycles and increase labor force participation rates, businesses, education entities, and citizens need to find new ways to engage and LaunchGVL is one such option.

Economic mobility is a clearly identified issue in Greenville County as presented by Raj Chetty’s Equality of Opportunity Project. This national study found that a child born in Greenville County to the bottom quintile of family income has only a 4.7% chance of reaching the top quintile. For a black child, that chance is less, only a 2.9% chance, and for a black male, it is even less with only a 1.9%. Young people beginning their lives in poverty in Greenville have a much more difficult time in reaching economic parity with the mainstream. The development of post-secondary skills can help mitigate this disparity.

LaunchGVL directly helps students network with business/industry representatives, increasing their social capital. All LaunchGVL experiences are paid. Many high school students must work to meet financial needs. Participants are often able to continue work with their placement companies after high school and, sometimes, during college and beyond. Furthermore, employers are increasingly seeking new hires that have this valuable experience.

For the student, WBL strengthens career awareness, workplace readiness, and personal development. Experiences are structured to give the student extensive practice in applying fundamental technical and practical knowledge as well as developing skills needed to create a career mindset for a lifetime of growth and development. Former LaunchGVL students recently shared the impact the program had in their lives.

“I learned many skills I wouldn’t have anywhere else. Experience is the best teacher.” Chloe Penaflor

“I will never forget the experience and how amazing it was to feel a part of something larger than myself.” Jay Smith

“I help conduct research, do reports and spreadsheets and graphics for the effluent flows for the facility systems. The different responsibilities at ReWa as the Business Continuity Services Intern have helped me learn how to be an adult and having those social skills is something I can definitely take with me into my career as a climate change analyst”. Kennedy Williams

For employers, connecting with students early allow them to train their future workforce today, create a pipeline of talent, to help meet current and future employment needs.

“We have 6 students, 4 in production working with CNC machines and the other 2 are in maintenance. We have been impressed with all the students and highly recommend other companies get involved with the program”. Dan Martin, plant manager at ABB Mechanical Power Transmission

LaunchGVL has grown steadily with 68 companies hiring 193 students since summer 2018. Several students have been hired full-time upon graduation while others have continued employment long-term. We track wages earned by students and are putting systems in place to follow students long-term to determine impact.

The Greenville Chamber Foundation supports students, employers, and the education process by removing barriers to employment. Generous grants have been received from Bank of America, Truist, and United Way. Accelerate (Greenville Chamber’s private sector-fueled economic development initiative) supports LaunchGVL as a key component of its talent and workforce strategy.

This year, two Greenville Chamber programs began a new partnership.  LaunchGVL and Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) graduate companies have come together to give Opportunity Youth the chance to connect with minority, women, and veteran owned businesses to create both employment and mentorship opportunities. We are excited about the positive outcomes this new initiative within LaunchGVL is providing.

The goal is to grow both student and employer participation in LaunchGVL. WBL is a heavy lift for all involved, but the impact is well worth the investment. By continuing to connect business and non-profits with students, we have a unique opportunity to create an ecosystem of on the job learning that begins in high school and extends to college and beyond.

We encourage all businesses in the region to consider providing an opportunity now for their future workforce.  To learn more about LaunchGVL, go to or contact Dr. Cheryl Garrison at  Be a part of growing a greater Greenville through LaunchGVL.

FoodShare Union County

FoodShare Union County

The RobinHood Group established FoodShare Union County in June 2021.

During the 2020 and 2021 SCAFM annual meetings and at our most recent board meeting we discussed the importance and need for partnering and collaborating with each other on grant funding opportunities, mentoring new markets and visiting each other’s markets. This year four counties, Greenville, Spartanburg, Union and Williamsburg are partnering with FoodShare SC and local medical facilitators to apply for the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) grant funding for the Veggie Rx prescription program to combat diabetes in the counties. The RobinHood Group’s local partners include Rebekah’s Harvest, a local nonprofit that has distributed over 10,000 USDA free produce boxes; the Union County Library System, which serves as the local hub for community activity and the Union Medical Center that serves as our medical facility.  These organizations are also members of the Union County Public Health Taskforce.

Another exciting benefit of FoodShare is being able to help our neighbors and family members reduce illnesses. FoodShare South Carolina was awarded a five-year grant to improve South Carolinians’ access to fresh, healthy food as a foundational step to decreasing the impact of diabetes on the state.  In Union County with a population is 27,316, the diabetes rate is 12.2%, 47% of adults are classifies as obese and we have a children poverty rate of 32%. In comparison South Carolina’s overall diabetes rate of 8%, 20% adult obesity rate and only 15% of children living in poverty, Union County is falling behind on these key health indicators. FoodShare Union County is providing a great service to the County, an awesome benefit to residents and increasing income for farmers and keeping revenue in the County.

Hamilton Career and Technology Center

Hamilton Career and Technology Center

By Carson LeCroy

Hamilton Career and Technology Center

The Hamilton Career and Technology Center, located in Oconee County, strives to live up to it’s slogan, “Discovering Passion, Finding Purpose.” We serve the high school students in the School District of Oconee County and have 1027 students enrolled this school year. The students spend half of their day on our campus, taking one of our 24 different course offerings that prepare students for many different types of business and industry. Our courses also pave the way for students to continue their education at Tri-County Technical College or another post-secondary institution.  Our tremendous faculty, composed of traditionally trained educators and teachers coming from actual industry, work hard to provide students with authentic learning opportunities to prepare them for the workforce or post-secondary education.

Our goal is to have every student that completes one of our programs to be a  “college or career ready” student and have work based experience or an industry-recognized credential in their pocket when they graduate. A career-ready “completer” is a student who completes a course of study worth six credits or more. That is over 700 hours of classroom time learning technical and career based skills that will directly impact a bountiful workforce in Oconee County and the Upsate!

Another proud program at the Hamilton Career and Technology Center is our Transition Program.  Our Transition Program serves students that receive specialized education and teaches them life skills and career skills, in order to live a fulfilling, independent life.  These students run a school based restaurant, The Considerate Cafe. The restaurant is open to the public on Fridays from 11-1:00, and the students operate every facet of the restaurant, including serving up favorites like meat and three or barbacoa tacos.

The following is a list of courses offered at HCTC:

  • Building Construction
  • Architectural Design
  • Mechanical Design
  • Graphic Communications
  • Marketing Communications
  • Marketing Management
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Health Science
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • PLTW Biomedical Sciences
  • Sports Medicine
  • Culinary Arts
  • Cosmetology
  • Computer Programming
  • AP Computer Science
  • Law Enforcement
  • Machine Tool Technology
  • Welding Technology
  • PLTW Pre-Engineering
  • Auto Collision Repair Technology
  • Automotive Technology
  • Employability Education Courses
  • Independent Living Skills

This is the Hamilton Career and Technology Center’s second year at our new campus on Highway 11 in Westminster. The state of the art facility includes a one-of-a-kind paint booth in auto collision, over 20 CNC tooling machines, and a replica hospital wing for nursing students, just to name a few.  One new and unique opportunity at the Hamilton Career and Technology Center is the upcoming Emergency Communications course. The Hamilton Career and Technology Center has partnered with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office to create a fully functional 911/dispatch room that will serve as the Sheriff’s Office official backup.  Our law enforcement instructor will teach a course that will end in a Certification test for students to pursue a career in dispatch after graduation if they wish.  The Hamilton Career and Technology Center is thankful to partner with the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the many other businesses that provide equipment, shadowing, and work-based learning opportunities for our students. Want to get involved and learn more information about taking on a “work-based learner” at your business? Please reach out to us!

Hamilton Career and Technology Center

4454 Oconee Business Parkway

Westminster, SC 29693



Instagram and Twitter: @HCTCoconee

Facebook: Hamilton Career and Technology Center

Mental Health and COVID-19

Mental Health and COVID-19

Mental Health and COVID-19

By Megan Rogers, Director of Business Development for The Carolina Center

We are almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no doubt that it has had a major effect on almost all aspects of our lives. Many of us are facing extreme challenges emotionally, socially and financially that can lead to overwhelming stress. Persistent isolation can also increase stress and anxiety, especially in those who are already vulnerable.

A crisis is growing in mental health as the widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic hardship it has brought affects many across the nation. A June 2020 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 5412 US adults found that 40.9% of respondents reported “at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition,” including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and substance abuse, with rates that were 3 to 4 times the rates 1 year earlier.1 Remarkably, 10.7% of respondents reported seriously considering suicide in the last 30 days.1

People who have had the virus may still be feeling the physical effects and may be depressed with survivor syndrome, which can include guilt and elements of PTSD. Many who never had a mental health condition before contracting COVID now may be struggling mentally as a result of facing new limits on activity levels or they may be feeling concerned about their long-term health.

COVID-19 has also presented unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and for those who are in recovery. The pandemic has presented enormous challenges for these individuals, as evidenced by significant increases in drug use since March of 2020. Some people with no history of addiction may have turned to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and deal with increased stress and anxiety.

As we continue to grapple with these challenges, it stands to reason that the increased stress and impact on mental health has spilled into the workplace as well, affecting employee productivity and job satisfaction.

So, how can employers support their workers?

  • Open the door. Ask employees how they are doing. While some may not be comfortable with such an open conversation, more than 40% of employees report that they would like their manager to approach the topic.2 And it’s not a conversation to outsource to HR. When people were asked to rank who they were willing to talk to about mental health concerns, peers and managers came in at the top of the list.
  • Ensure that employees’ needs are met — make sure they have access to personal protective equipment, transportation and other resources to do their jobs. This level of support increases confidence and job satisfaction.
  • Provide clear communication to employees and supervisors about expectations, support resources and new policies that respond directly to impacts created by the pandemic. This reduces uncertainty at work, which is a major contributor to employee stress.
  • Supervisors should not expect work to continue at the same level as before. Creating this expectation can lead to employee burn-out. Instead, help employees prioritize what work is critical and what can wait. Employers also should emphasize that using sick leave applies whether someone isn’t feeling well physically or mentally.
  • Communicate available resources. Make sure you are very clear about the mental health resources available to everyone at your company. Employees who said their company has proactively shared how to access mental health resources are more likely to feel that their company cares about their wellbeing.

Unfortunately, we will all shoulder the effects of this pandemic for the foreseeable future. If we support each other and approach these challenges with empathy and an open mind, perhaps we can make some things a little easier.

The Carolina Center for Behavioral Health is here to help. Located off Interstate 85 and Hwy 14 in Greer, we offer inpatient and outpatient psychiatric and substance use disorder treatment options for adolescents, adults and senior adults. If you or someone you know is having a hard time coping with the mental health effects of the pandemic, we are here to help. We offer no-cost assessments 24/7. Visit us at or call 864-235-2335 to learn more.


  1. Czeisler  MÉ, Lane  RI, Petrosky  E,  et al.  Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic: United States, June 24-30, 2020.
  2. Smith, R. (2020, May 1). How CEOs Can Support Employee Mental Health in a Crisis. Retrieved September 2020, from Harvard Business Review:
The Campbell Kids – Walking to End Alzheimer’s

The Campbell Kids – Walking to End Alzheimer’s

Written by Perry Henderson, VP of Sales & Marketing at Anderson Dahlen, Inc.

Our family, like so many, has experienced the pain and struggle that comes when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This terrible reality hits nearly every family at some point.  Whether you are the one with it, caring for a loved one who has it, or dealing with it in a less direct way… it’s a unrelenting enemy that takes away our minds, our time, and our health.  Which is why our family remains committed to raising awareness and funding to help those struggling against this disease, or caring for someone they love who is in the fight.  And we will continue supporting this cause until we have a cure!

And until we have that cure, we walk…

The Alzheimer’s Association works on many fronts, with dedicated individuals and teams working to fight for a cure, and to help individuals and caregivers.  WALK To End Alzheimer’s is where my family, in particular my mom and her sisters (The Campbell Kids), began getting involved.  In her own words, this is why she walks:

As you know, Alzheimer’s took my brother, Carroll, from us at a very early time in life. He was only in his late 50’s when he began to show signs and died 5 years after his diagnosis. He didn’t have a fighting chance! There are no survivors of Alzheimer’s ……not yet! We are walking to change that! With advanced research, our dreams can and will come true….an end to Alzheimer’s!

There are now many, many walk events all over the country being organized and promoted through the efforts of caring individuals and amazing communities.  My community includes some amazing people at Riverside Tennis Club in Greer where we were able to be a sponsor at their recent tournament.  The owners, Alison and Ray Frazier, have been extremely supportive, and so many of the members have generously donated as well as registered to walk.

I recall Greenville’s initial Walk being a small group of “walkers” at Rolling Green Village, and I had pulled my oldest boys in a wagon.  They are now 19 and 20 years of age.  Like them, the events have grown.  Greenville’s walk is now dozens of teams and thousands of individuals.  It’s hosted at the Greenville Drive stadium and the route is through downtown.  It’s a great way to raise awareness in our great town… and it’s a great way for people struggling with the disease or the difficulties of caring someone who is, often in isolation, to realize there is a loving and caring community around them.

Sometimes I think that the most important thing for the caregivers is for them to realize the love and support that others offer them.  They are not alone in this fight and their loved ones are honored and celebrated through this WALK annually.

If you would like to join us in this fight, please consider giving to and participating in the Walk To End Alzheimer’s in Greenville on Saturday, October 2.  The Campbell Kids will be walking in honor of our family members and friends impacted by Alzheimer’s.  We’d love for you to join us.

Please click here for info on donating + participating:

2021 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Greenville, SC: Campbell Kids | Walk to End Alzheimer’s

The Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina

The Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina

Written by Josh Johnson

The Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina, located in Pendleton, SC, is a comprehensive and innovative historic preservation and museum site. We are a different kind of museum because our motto is “get their hands in the dirt.”  We firmly believe that agriculture connects people to the land and to a sense of place.  South Carolina has a long agricultural history and culture, from Cherokee farmers to tenant farming, to modern-day fields monitored by drones. Through it all, South Carolina has remained an agrarian state with a people connected to the Earth.  Our exhibits are more than just static fixtures hidden behind glass.

Initially a small space with exhibits representing the history and future of South Carolina agriculture, the museum opened its doors to the public in June 2013. Since then, it has grown into the state agricultural museum for South Carolina, with indoor and outdoor exhibits, monthly educational programs, tours, preserved structures including a Pee Dee tobacco barn and an early 20th-century schoolhouse, and a large collection of historic tractors.

Named for the son of the late Senator T. Ed and Juanita Garrison, who died tragically in a farm-related accident in 1990, BGAMSC has always been committed to preserving the agrarian culture of SC that he represented so well. Our goal is to showcase the culture and learn about the future by looking at the past.  If we can spark curiosity about agriculture in a child, or send an adult home with a new-found skill such as canning, then we have done our job.

The Museum also serves as a base of operations for South Carolina’s Century Farm Program, a statewide program that celebrates South Carolina farms that have been in the same family for more than one hundred years. As of 2021 more than 500 farms are in our database, a number that grows larger every year.

Our parent organization, Lake Hartwell Country, is a regional tourism and historic preservation office for the state of South Carolina that covers Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties. Since 1966, Lake Hartwell Country has preserved artifacts in our archives, saved numerous buildings and cultural sites from decay and destruction, and marketed to visitors who come to see and enjoy the natural beauty of our area. Led by Executive Director Les McCall and supported by grant-writer Andrew Stevenson and the BGAMSC staff, Lake Hartwell Country’s focus is a dual mission of preserving our priceless Appalachian history and culture, as well as one of economic development through tourism in our region.

Our most recent structural addition, the Iron Oak Barn, completed in 2020, serves as our event center. Originally the McGee family mule barn, located in Starr, South Carolina, the barn has quickly grown into a major venue for our region, perfect for reunions, weddings, and parties. The barn has already attracted over 5,000 people since its debut and even plays host to our yearly Farm Day, an annual celebration of local farmers, crafters, demonstrators, and a wide variety of vendors.

Now more than ever, our museum team is dedicated to bringing the community together, be it in Pendleton or across the state. Museum Educator Jordan Bannister delights in giving tours and educating those that come into the museum. Site Coordinator Josh Johnson can often be seen at festivals, fairs, and craft shows bringing our mechanical milking cow Clarabelle and other vintage farm equipment to kids and adults alike. On the first and third Saturdays of every month, the museum is proud to offer a live blacksmith demonstration with Master Blacksmith Griz Hockwalt, and the second Saturday of each month features a combination of nature and historic walking trail along with the museum’s property in a partnership with Woodburn Historic House. At the forefront of these initiatives is the mission of bringing history into the present while also discussing the future of agriculture in our state. We are very proud of the work we have been doing here and look forward to sharing that experience with you.